Infusions, How to Plan, and What to Expect
If you’re waiting for your first infusion, it can cause anxiety and wondering about what will happen and what is next. I know how you feel, as I this will be my 8th year of infusions. It feels like a normal walk in the park now.
You’re probably scratching your head and wondering, "Really? Receiving your DMT via infusion rather than taking a tablet is a walk in the park?" Yep, it is for me. However, it’s a personal choice for you and your neurologist to determine which method is best for you.
How to prepare for an infusion
The day before an infusion, I think it's helpful to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. I've found this helps the veins to be more dilated, making it easier to insert the IV.
Since you may be there for several hours, wearing comfortable clothes helps. I choose loose clothing and a short-sleeve shirt, which is comfortable for me. Consider wearing layers to help adjust to the room temperature, or bring a sweater or jacket.
Now that you’re comfortable, consider how you will pass the time while at your infusion center. I chose to bring a laptop or tablet to access the internet. This allows me to pass the time by looking at my email, surfing the internet, listening to music, or writing. If you’re a reader, bring a book to pass the time.
Next, consider bringing snacks and something to drink. Most centers provide a good variety of snacks and drinks for their patients. The center I use has always done so. If you’ll be there during lunch hours bring your lunch, as there should be a refrigerator to keep it cool.
What to expect during it
So, where do you begin? Your first stop is visiting your infusion doctor to discuss any concerns you might have and to undergo a quick precheck. They can check your blood pressure, listen to your breathing, heart, and check your reflexes. This is your opportunity to learn more about your infusion if this is your first, and to help make this process a bit more comfortable.
The next stop is checking in with the infusion team to verify all your personal information and the medication you’ll receive. Once the IV is inserted, a person can be given a saline solution to ensure you’re hydrated well. Then, in my experience, a blood draw is taken to verify metabolic numbers are OK and ensure there are no signs of the JC virus. Validating you do not have JCV is critical to reduce the chance of developing Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy, or PML.1
The next steps, depending on your type of DMT, might be slightly different. This is what may happen if Ocrevus is your medication. Once your blood results are verified, they can begin infusing an antihistamine such as Benadryl to help reduce any possible drug reactions during the infusion. You can substitute other antihistamines in place of Benadryl and I have with Claritin, however check with your neurologist first.
Once these steps are completed, the Ocrevus infusion can take approximately 2.5 hours. The infusion nurse, in my experience, will begin a slow drip and increase the drip if you’re not having any reactions to the DMT. Once the infusion is completed, I've had a one-hour safety observation time with the IV just in case a reaction begins to develop. Once the hour is complete the IV will be removed, ending the treatment.
Giving thought to this all
Giving a little thought to what will make your infusion comfortable can help to make this process smoother and easier. Bring a list of questions if you have any to discuss with your infusion doctor or nurse.
Thanks again for taking the time to read my articles. I'm looking forward to hearing your advice on how you tackle infusion. Until the next time I wish you, your friends, and your family all the best.
Were you misdiagnosed with something else before receiving a MS diagnosis?